Homers from Bryant, Contreras can't help Cubs overcome Atlanta
Kris Bryant was slow to bounce back from a tough year at the plate in 2020, but he's gotten hot in recent weeks. His batting average briefly dipped above .300 this week and he got the Cubs back into Monday's game in Atlanta with a third-inning grand slam.
He talked before the game about whether he's made any adjustments this season, especially since he's due to become a free agent when it's over.
"I haven't changed one thing, at all," he said. "This is just me. Go out there and play and let the chips fall where they may."
Bryant's slam brought the Cubs back to life after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, but Atlanta brought a little more offense on a muggy night and held on for an 8-7 victory.
With the score tied 5-5, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman drilled a 3-run homer in the fifth off Brandon Workman. Willson Contreras got some of it back with a 2-run homer in the seventh, but that's how it ended.
Cubs starter Zach Davies had another short outing, leaving in the fourth inning after giving up 5 runs on 4 walks and 6 hits. His season ERA rose to 9.47.
"It really just comes down to pitch execution. It's just not there," Davies said. "Probably one of the worst stretches of my career. It is early, but at any point it stinks. Putting your team down 4 runs in the first inning, having to claw back.
"You want the Kris Bryant home run to be the go-ahead, you don't want it to have to be the come from behind. I don't think it's really anything too much mechanically or pitches, it's just going out there and performing."
The Cubs bullpen was pretty good, other than the Freeman home run, but they needed five relievers just to finish the eighth inning. New addition Trevor Megill made his major league debut and threw a scoreless sixth inning.
"We haven't probably gotten the length we were expecting out of our starting rotation just yet," manager David Ross said. "We do feel like things will come back around for those guys when they start to find their groove and be able to go deeper in the games. We're not at that point yet, but we need to get there."
Bryant had a good story about he and Anthony Rizzo have worked together to help snap the team-wide horrendous hitting slump to start the season. By the end of Monday's game, Bryant was hitting .289 and Rizzo .230.
"I've helped him out this year a little bit, just because hitting behind him a lot, I get to see his swing right there in the on-deck circle," Bryant said. "I gave him a drill that I've been working on in the cages that I think really helped me out. He took it into the game and I forget which game, but he got 2 hits after that and he's like, 'I'll remember this for the rest of my life.'
"That made me feel good that I was able to help him out and kind of get him thinking in a different light. When we say we're playing defense on offense, I think it's more just a joke in terms of these pitchers are actually ridiculous and sometimes you're going up there and you're pulling out your lightsaber and just trying to hit anything that comes your way. That's how it is nowadays."
The Braves started 37-year-old Charlie Morton on Monday. He gave up the Bryant grand slam and Rizzo sacrifice fly that tied the score in the fifth inning. Morton also made it into the sixth inning, despite giving up 5 runs.
Davies' highlight of the night was a double in his first at-bat that helped set the stage for Bryant's slam.
The Cubs made several moves before the game, bringing Megill and backup catcher Tony Wolters back from South Bend. Catcher Austin Romine went on the injured list with a left wrist sprain and pitcher Jason Adam was sent back to the alternate site.